Iranian Officials Say Food For Oil Programs Have Expanded

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Gholamhossein Ashraghi, head of public relations for the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), said yesterday that “in the continuation of making sanctions ineffective, bartering oil sales for goods and equipment is one of the methods being used to collect payments for oil.” Ashraghi, who is also an adviser to the director of NIOC, said that as far as neutralizing the effects of sanctions, “bartering oil for goods has been one of the most effective methods in this direction. Meanwhile, the NIOC, in cooperating with Iran’s Central Bank, also has other approaches to collect payments.”

In regard to the expansion of the bartering programs, Ashraghi said that “with consideration of the numerous advantages, today, part of our international contracts will be designed and implemented through bartering.” He added that “under present conditions, one of the positive aspects of bartering is that it secures the collection of payments from crude oil. Using this method can diversify foreign trade in the field of the oil industry and based on the plans that were conducted, a significant part of the oil revenues can be acquired through various means.”

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Will Former Reformist President Khatami Run In the Elections?

Opposition website Jaras  published an extensive article titled “40 Reasons For the Necessity of Khatami’s Candidacy” on March 8. The article, written by Mohammad Reza Jalaeipour, has been shared and critiqued widely on Facebook and is the latest call to former Reformist President Mohammad Khatami to participate in Iran’s upcoming presidential elections this summer. In writing the article, Jalaeipour stated his intention was to have a “public discussion” about Khatami’s candidacy.

Jalaeipour believes that a Khatami presidency would increase the possibility of the end of Mir Hussien Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi’s house arrest and bring about the freedom of political prisoners. 2009 presidential candidates Mousavi and Karoubi have been under house arrest for two years without charge. He also believes that Khatami is able to address some of Iran’s economic problems and also decrease sanctions and the possibility of military strikes. Some on social media wrote that Jalaeipour overestimates Khatami’s abilities to reign in the various issues Iran is facing.

One of the more interesting reasons given for Khatami’s candidacy is that Jalaeipour believes that the next president may be the last president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Previously this year, Ayatollah Khamenei had suggested the possibility of moving from a presidential system to a parliamentary system. Some analysts believe this move would provide Khamenei more leverage over a prime minister than he currently has over the president.

Yesterday at Tehran University, Khatami gave a speech which was printed by opposition website Kalameh. In relation to the elections Khatami set forth a list of prerequisites in regards to elections. He explained how “the government should be run by the people” and that people “must be free from fear, force, intimidation […] to express themselves as they want.”

Feb. 18 it was reported that the Reformist Front, a group of Reformist parties and groups, had nominated Khatami as their candidate for the presidency although he had not yet responded to their nomination. Many on social media who are close to the Reformists are suggesting that Khatami will soon decide to run. However, several Reformists told Iran Pulse that nothing is confirmed yet.

On March 6, Minister of Intelligence Haydar Moslehi warned of “an individual connected to the seditionist camp” has connections to BBC and VOA and that they “desire this person’s candidacy.” Although Moslehi did not mention Khatami by name, it was generally known that that’s who he was referring to. The “sedition” is what Iranian state media refers to the Green Movement protests that erupted after Iran’s 2009 contested elections.

In Other News

The Iranian delegate at at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session accused Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed of “working with terrorists” in compiling his latest report.

At the 22nd Human Rights Council session, Shaheed’s report accused the Islamic Republic of Iran of human rights violations ranging from the arrests of journalists to the high rate of executions and persecution of religious and ethnic minorities. This is Shaheed’s fourth report on Iran in nearly two years.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, Iran’s delegate at UNHRC and also head of human rights council to the judiciary in Iran, also accused Shaheed of “reducing himself to a political activist who is against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Days before the session in Tehran, Larijani accused Shaheed of acting like “a movie star running from one network to another.” Larijani also said that unlike in other countries, “no question has been left unanswered” in regards to human rights. He also accused the United States of human rights violations after Sept. 11, 2001 for the purposes of “protection of security.”

The European Union announced yesterday that nine Iranians were added to their sanctions list of human rights violators. This list restricts their travel and activities to the 27 countries within the European Union. This addition brings the total list of Iranians on this list to 87.

Head of Majles Foreign Policy Commission: America has been defeated in Syria

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the Majles’ Commission for Foreign Policy and National Security, in conversation with Khane-ye mellat, the Majles’ new agency, has said: “The changes in Syria are one of the most important links in the chain of repeated defeats of America in the region.”

“With view to the fact that America is warmongering in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza, Syria was one very important link [in the chain]for the West, in particular America.”

“On the other hand, while America has not directly entered into the Syria debate, everyone knows that this country can use the resources of its European and regional allies, the billions of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the resources of Turkey for changing the political structure of Syria. But in practice, after the passing of approximately two years since these events [began], today it can be said that America has been defeated in Syria.”

“Fortunately Bashar al-Assad as the legal president of Syria could with divine backing and the unceasing support of the countries of the resistance, especially the Islamic Republic of Iran and also countries such as Russia and China as the two permanent members of the Security Council, have defeated this American-Western front.”

Touting the “current successes of the Syrian army against the armed opposition,” Boroujerdi stated: “Today this issue has led to the approach of many countries, who previously believed in the overthrow of the political regime in Syria by military means, to change to political methods and negotiation, and this change of approach shows the defeat of American plans for changing the structure of the political regime in Syria.”

“With respect to the experience Lakhdar Brahimi enjoys [from his mediating role] in the crises in Afghanistan and Iraq, in the Syrian crisis, despite all the pressure from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, he has tried to act in a moderate fashion. The appropriate positions of Ebrahimi are clearly seen in the reports of the United Nations.”

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Conservative MP: Principalists should admit they were wrong to support Ahmadinejad

Ahmad Karimi Isfahani, a member of the Front for the Disciples of the Imam and Leadership, and an influential figure amongst the bazaar guilds, has told Nameh News that Principalists should “admit” that supporting President Ahmadinejad was a “mistake.”

Karimi Isfahani made numerous noteworthy points that might be thought representative of a considerable swathe of opinion amongst Principalist politicians:

“When Ahmadinejad says he is not a Principalist it is correct, and also truthfully Principalists have thought correctly and his actions of the last 7 years show that he cannot be a reforming candidate for the presidency.”

“In 2005 after the election was brought to a second round and two people had to be chosen from [i.e., Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad]. At that time the Principalist by necessity settled on Ahmadinejad, not as an acceptable individual or one affiliated with the Principalists. Though some had reached the opinion that they would support him against the Reformists.”

Karimi Isfahani’s next comment is particularly interesting insofar as he reckons it to be Ahmadinejad’s lack of respect for the clergy which reveals the extent of his lack of Principalist credentials.

“Being a Principalist depends on passing through special phases and observing a determinate principle. Ahmadinejad’s action in confrontation with the clergy and Grand Ayatollahs alone shows that he is not  a Principalist. His disrespect toward the clergy and the dissatisfaction of the Grand Ayatollahs from his first term resulted in some Grand Ayatollahs not permitting him to enter their quarters. This all shows Ahmadinejad is not affiliated with the Principalists.”

“Some of the main body of Principalists supported Ahmadinejad’s slogans and today must clearly accept that the introduction of Ahmadinejad as a Principalist and the candidate of the Principalists was mistaken. We were not in agreement with his candidacy during the first term and not the second.”

“The facilities that are today in the control of followers of Ahmadinejad, in particular the deviant current, is very dangerous. Money can have an effect on society and even this worry exists that this current never use this money they have gathered together to attract some votes toward themselves. In any case power and money is in the hands of a group who want to rival the Principalists.”

Finally, Karimi Isfahani stated clearly and without ambiguity, “until the time that the view of the president has the Leader’s approval and legitimacy bestowed upon it, it is nothing.”

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Sister of slain blogger tells opposition website how security forces beat her mother

Sahar Beheshti, the sister of Sattar Beheshti, a blogger who died in captivity at the now infamous Kahrizak detention center, has told the Green movement-affiliated website Kaleme that her elderly mother was beaten by security forces while attending a mourning ceremony marking the 40th day since her son’s death. According to Sahar Beheshti, her mother was beaten “in such a way that her foot has been severely injured.”

Video: Sattar Beheshti’s mother shouts: “I am proud of my son.”

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